What a difference a year makes

What a difference a year makes
What a difference a year makes

Many will look back on 2012 with rose-tinted spectacles as a year of incredible sporting success. Some may view it as the year of the double dip recession and European economic uncertainty. For landlords, 2012 has provided much insight into the future of the sector.

We began the year with an alert to so-called “accidental landlords”. With many people struggling to sell their properties, they may be considering becoming landlords. But it’s essential that they protect their tenants and themselves – a little knowhow goes a long way!

A leading theme for landlords in 2012 was energy efficiency. In March we spread the news of energy efficiency changes for landlords and as of April, landlords and letting agents have seven days after they start to market the property to produce an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC). On the energy theme we then supported Big Energy Saving Week and promoted the benefits of the Green Deal to both landlords and tenants. The Green Deal is set to be a continuing theme for landlords and tenants into 2013 and beyond as the Government’s energy-saving initiative becomes fully available.

Another key theme for the year was additional and selective licensing. The NLA vocalised its concerns over borough-wide selective licensing in the London borough of Newham in an open letter to the Sir Robin Wales, the Mayor of Newham, stating that targeted enforcement has the strong potential to be a far more effective solution to the Borough’s problems than blanket licensing.

July saw tenancy deposit protection law launch in Scotland. In Scotland, deposit protection is free for all landlords, letting agents and tenants. By protecting a tenant’s deposit in one of three Government-licenced tenancy deposit protection schemes, landlords and letting agents will be keeping tenants’ deposit funds safe until the tenant vacates the property. Should a dispute arise, a free dispute resolution service is offered by all the schemes.  For further guidance, visit the my|deposits Scotland Resource Centre, designed for landlords, agents and tenants.

In August, the Department for Communities and Local Governments published the Montague report. The NLA welcomed Sir Montague’s recommendation to increase investment in the private-rented sector.

September saw the criminalisation of squatting in the UK. The NLA welcomed the Government’s attempts to end the distress to property owners caused by squatters. However, it feels that the new law does not address the central issues of owners being able to regain possession of their property.

With more people renting than ever before record demand has meant landlords have been overwhelmed by prospective tenants looking for a place to live. Many enjoy the flexibility that private renting provides in an uncertain mortgage market and indeed, at the NLA’s National Conference in October, Lord Freud thanked landlords for their role.

The NLA also celebrated the success of women in property in October with the NLA’s Property Women Awards. The awards saw Yvonne Hall awarded Property Woman of the Year 2012.

In November, the NLA’s Chairman, David Salisbury announced that he would stand down as Chairman of the NLA during the summer of 2013. We will of course miss David’s leadership, but we look forward to welcoming Carolyn Uphill to the role of Chairman in 2013.

Looking to the year ahead, there are many challenges on the horizon. It’s nothing new, but Welfare Reform is causing concern among landlords and tenants alike. This certainly looks set to be a key theme in 2013 – and not just within housing.

Perhaps the biggest challenge will be stimulating further investment in buy-to-let. But with tenancy deposit protection arriving in Northern Ireland, national accreditation on the cards for Wales and the eagerly-awaited arrival of the Green Deal, it’s safe to say that 2013 is set to be both a challenging and rewarding year for many in the private-rented sector.

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